Domestic flights have recovered 80 percent of the levels of passengers they had before the COVID-19 pandemic in Brazil, said Tourism Minister Gilson Machado in an interview to Agência Brasil during the Expo 2020 in Dubai, in the Arab Emirates.
“The hub in [the city of] Recife, for instance, has 115 percent of the air flow. We also see hotel bookings for the end of the year; there are no hotel [rooms available] in the Brazilian Northeast for addresses in ecotourism, in Natal Luz de Gramado, and Canela,” the minister said.
International flights, however, are still far from a recovery. According to Machado, international air travel currently has 30 percent of the passengers from before COVID-19.
In Dubai, the minister said he intends to expand the number of international tourists traveling to Brazil and increase foreign investment in tourism infrastructure in the country. He believes that many will want to get closer to nature after the pandemic, which could represent a major asset for Brazil.
“We’re fighting for resources for that, because the fight for international tourists is a battle for giants. Tourism means money circulating straight into the veins of the economy. Today we see a country like Mexico, with %400 million to advertise the country abroad. And Mexico receives nearly ten times fewer foreign tourists than Brazil. We are fighting alongside the National Congress, so that Embratur has more resources,” he went on to say.
The goal is to reach the threshold of 12 million international visitors, twice the record observed in the country in 2018–6.62 million.
To reach this goal, the 7 million mark was expected to be reached in 2019 due to visa waivers for US, Canadian, Japanese, and Australian nationals. However, the economic crisis in Argentina—the country’s top origin of tourists to Brazil, with over a third of the total—thwarted expectations, and Brazil received no more than 6.35 million international visitors that year.
*Reporter Vitor Abdala and photographer Marcelo Camargo traveled at the invitation of the Brazilian Agency for the Promotion of Exports and Investment, Apex-Brasil.
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